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Marvel Studios has finally released the first footage for the Hawkeye TV series coming to Disney+ in late November. In addition to teasing a rather unexpected light-hearted Christmas vibe, the trailer also packed in a number of world-building elements such as a Broadway musical inspired by the life and times of Steve Rogers/Captain America.
This may sound like something that could only exist within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it isn't the case. Fun fact: Broadway almost made an officially licensed Captain America musical in the mid-1980s.
According to a New York Times report from 1985, the $4 million stage play would have found Marvel's star-spangled hero trying to save his girlfriend (who also happens to be a candidate for U.S. president) from a group of terrorists holding her hostage at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
John Cullum, Ken Howard, Richard Kiley, and Hal Linden were all rumored to be up for the central role, with Cullum — a seasoned theater actor — ultimately landing the patriotic part. Meanwhile, Linda Lavin and Cloris Leachman were considered for the girlfriend. Lavin already had experience with comic book musicals after appearing in a Superman-centric play from 1966 entitled It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman.
Marvel even went so far as to run full-page casting call ad for the role of Mister at the time, a character described as "a 12-year-old tomboy who stirs Cap into action."
Philip Rose — whose credits included A Raisin in the Sun and Purlie Victorious — was tapped to direct, working off a book and music/lyrics from the My Old Friends duo of Mel Mandel and Norman Sachs. Some of the songs were (per Newsarama) titled "Fly the Flag," "Into the Gym," "Nobody Asked Me to Lead a Parade This Year," "Both Ways," "If I Could Fall In Love," "Marvin Mittleman," and "The First Presidential."
James Galton (president and CEO of Marvel Entertainment at the time) was on board as a producer alongside Shari Upbin (One Mo' Time), and "some as yet untapped sources." Originally supposed to premiere in the spring of 1986, the whole thing ultimately fell apart due to lack of funds, but a lengthy feature article published by The Morning Call in 1988 sheds some light on the failed endeavor.
For one thing, Cap's love interest, Sharon Phillips, was actually going to be his ex-girlfriend, given the fact that Rogers doesn't approve of her bid for POTUS. Sharon is kidnapped because if elected, she plans to ban a "brainwashing face cleanser" made by "cosmetics and spa tycoon" Jay Peters. Yes, this is the real plot they were considering.
"This is essentially a love story about a man who's always been strong, independent — even macho — and a sensitive, assertive, bright and political woman," Mandel said.
"What other musical has a woman president in it?" added Upbin, who was banking on all sorts of tie-in merch (lunchboxes, T-shirts, sneakers, dolls — you name it!) "Captain America is great Americana, pure and simple," she explained.
Unfortunately, the play just couldn't secure the necessary cash needed to fulfill its grand ambitions, which also included "major special effects" by way of scenic designer Clarke Dunham, who wanted "an onstage transformation of Steve Rogers into Captain America ... aided by hydraulics, black lights, ersatz lasers, and projections."
The way Dunham put it: "People would think it's 3-D, but it's not. Rather than Captain America putting on a costume, the costume puts on Captain America."
The World War II super-soldier never got the chance to belt out any Tony-winning lyrics, but he was the subject of the now-infamous Captain America movie from 1990 starring Matt Salinger (son of Catcher in the Rye author, J.D. Salinger) as Steve Rogers. That film was a total flop and the live-action character was put back into deep freeze until his MCU debut over two decades later in Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger.
Hawkeye lands on Disney+ Wednesday, Nov. 24, and hopefully brings us at least one catchy Broadway Cap tune.